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4 Sets of Japanese Art Motifs Symbolizing Good Luck

There are a variety of art that are drawn on Japanese woodblock prints, ink paintings, antiques, etc. Do you know each of its meanings? This time, we would like to talk about those sets of art motifs that can mean good luck. During your trip to Japan, if you ever see any of these scenes, please try and remember today’s article. This might allow your tour become more interesting.


1. Bamboo and Tiger

As an example of good luck, there is a common saying of “tiger in bamboo”. It is the same meaning as “sparrow in bamboo”. Though there are many sources of this saying, mostly it describes a scene where a vigorous tiger is in a silent field of bamboos, making the tiger’s beauty stand out more. This is a drawing that is often found on folding screens.


2. Wave (Moon) and Rabbit

The match of moon and rabbit is often used on Ko-Imari ware (antiques), kimono, family crests, etc. There are also various views on the source of this match, but it is mostly defined where a rabbit represents leaping forward and prosperity, since it can jump. If the rabbit rides on a wave, then it will move further forward. Another story that it derives from is one scene from the lyrics of the song, Chikubu Shima (Chikubu Island).

The Relationship Between the Rabbit and the Moon:Tsukimi: A Fall Tradition From the Heian Period


3. Maple Leaf and Deer

The saying “Deer and Maple Leaf” is also used as an example of a set that leads to good things. This set is also the set that gives the highest point of October in the Japanese card game, hanafuda. The art motifs in the October card in hanafuda is named as “Ten deer” (shika no to), which shows a deer drawn facing sideways. In Japanese daily conversation, there is an expression, “shikato suru” (ignoring), which is derived from the image of the deer facing sideways, taking the “shika” and “to” from “shika no to”. Moreover, deer meat also has another name called “momiji” (maple).

Related: Sakura Niku (Cherry Blossom Meat)? A Japanese Food Culture That Impresses Foodies


4. Cloud and Dragon


The combination of cloud and dragon is also considered good luck. You can probably find lots of them in a variety of temples. It is painted on the ceilings of Kyoto’s Tenryu-ji (world heritage), Kennin-ji, Tofuku-ji, and etc. In Kamakura, they are also present in Engaku-ji and Kencho-ji.

If you understand the meaning of the sets of arts that are introduced in this article, you will be able to enjoy further when visiting Japanese historical sites!

Related:How Many Do You Know? 9 Superstitions that Any Japanese Knows

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